Nepal plane crash with 72 onboard leaves at least 68 dead

In Nepal, the most fatal air catastrophe in the past thirty years took place when a plane carrying 72 individuals crashed, leading to the confirmation of at least 68 fatalities and diminishing optimism for any survivors.

The police official, AK Chhetri, stated that an additional 36 individuals were still located in the 300-meter ravine where the plane crashed in Pokhara, central Nepal. He mentioned, “Thirty-one deceased individuals have been transported to medical facilities.”

According to Krishna Prasad Bhandari, the spokesperson for the army, no survivors have been discovered thus far. The search and rescue operation is still in progress. Due to the aircraft’s crash into a ravine, it is challenging to recover the corpses. The army stated that they were able to recover 66 bodies from the wreckage of the accident, but the rescue attempts were hindered by the hazardous landscape.

Hundreds of rescuers from the army and police were dispatched to the location. Authorities mentioned that there were still additional bodies to be recovered, but the rescue mission was suspended on Sunday evening.

It was in 1992 when 167 people were killed on a crashed flight from Pakistan International Airlines, making it the worst aviation disaster in Nepal’s history.

There were a total of 72 individuals on board the flight operated by Yeti Airlines. Among them were four crew members and 68 passengers. According to the official airport report, there were 15 foreign nationals among the passengers. These included one person from Britain, two from South Korea, five from India, four from Russia, one from Argentina, one from France, and one from Australia.

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The twin-propeller aircraft had been used to travel from Kathmandu, the capital, to Pokhara, a popular gateway to the Himalayan mountains, for international trekkers and religious pilgrims in central Nepal.

The flight took off at 10.50 am on Sunday morning after making final contact with air traffic control. Shortly after, it crashed on the banks of the Seti River, near the newly inaugurated Pokhara airport, where it had landed about two weeks ago.

The weather on Sunday was clear. “The aircraft was cruising at 12,500ft in a descent that was normal,” said Anup Joshi, the spokesperson for Pokhara airport, adding that the plane crashed during approach.

According to a statement from the Franco-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR, they said that they were supporting the investigation into the crash. The aircraft, an ATR 72-500, was equipped with an old transponder and the flight tracker data was unreliable, according to the flight tracker data. Output: According to a statement from the Franco-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR, they stated that they were providing assistance in the investigation of the crash. The ATR 72-500 aircraft, which was 15 years old, had an outdated transponder and the flight tracker data was deemed unreliable, based on the flight tracker data.

The crash site showed the plane engulfed in flames on the ground, with black smoke billowing into the sky and debris strewn across. Shortly after the crash, footage of the incident appeared on social media and was shared.

The residents of the nearby village were startled by a powerful blast, accompanied by a perilously low-flying aircraft passing over a residential neighborhood, as captured in a video recording.

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Gurudutta Dhakal, a local official, stated, “Currently, all organizations are prioritizing extinguishing the fire and saving the passengers.” The recovery of the victims posed challenges for the rescue personnel due to the presence of dense, pungent fumes and the ongoing combustion of the wreckage, which compounded the difficulty.

Rescuers gather at the site of the plane crash in Pokhara on Sunday. Photograph: Krishna Mani Baral/AFP/Getty Images

Following the collision, the prime minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, convened an urgent gathering. Additionally, the Nepalese government has established a commission consisting of five members to inquire into the reasons behind the occurrence and directed the authorities to carry out a thorough examination of all aircraft involved in domestic flights.

The air industry in Nepal has recently experienced a boom, attracting climbers and trekkers from foreign countries to remote and inaccessible areas. However, the industry has also been plagued by poor safety due to insufficient maintenance and training. In May 2022, a plane operated by Nepali carrier Air Tara crashed near Kathmandu, resulting in the death of all 22 people onboard. Additionally, 51 people lost their lives when a US-Bangla Airlines plane crashed.

The European Union has prohibited all airlines from Nepal from entering its airspace due to safety concerns.

The Himalayan country also has some of the world’s most remote and challenging runways, flanked by snow-capped peaks that pose a difficult and demanding task even for accomplished pilots.

Previously, fatal accidents have occurred in secluded regions with difficult hilly landscape, particularly in Nepal where aviation companies claim the absence of adequate infrastructure for precise weather predictions. Flying circumstances can be perilous, as the climate can also rapidly alter in the mountains.

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